Is the historical war against wildlife over in southern Europe?



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum Volume 17, Issue 5, 507, Article first published online: 29 August 2014

A. Martínez-Abraín, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), C/Miquel Marqués 21, 07190 Esporles, Mallorca, Spain.


Most southern European regions have experienced a rapid economical change during the last decades, moving from a historical economy based on agriculture to a society based on industry and technology. We test here whether causes of admission of birds admitted to a large southern European rehabilitation centre, during a 14-year period (1994–2007), reflect these socio-economical changes. Specifically, we estimated the trends in the number of birds admitted to the centre by shooting (S) over the number of birds admitted due to impacts caused by infrastructures (I), for the 10 most commonly admitted species with complete time series available. Species were grouped in three groups following ecological traits: raptors (diurnal and nocturnal) and aquatic birds. Trends were estimated by means of the slope of a linear regression of the log-transformed S/I ratio over time, which provided the finite population growth rate (λ) and its 95% confidence intervals. We used the ratio to prevent possible biases caused by changes in wild population densities over the years. We conclude that the overall trend in the S/I ratio, as well as the trends for all three bird groups considered, were negative, and indicated a c. 10% annual reduction in the number of birds admitted by shooting in relation to those admitted by infrastructure-related injuries. Causal relationships were analysed by means of Poisson regressions on absolute numbers. Importantly we show that despite the direct historical war against wildlife seems to be coming to an end in southern Europe, impact to wildlife continues in an indirect way, as collateral damages caused by our post-industrial way of life. So the overall scenario is most likely not one of improved conservation status in southern Europe, but rather one of shifting ways of impacting wildlife in parallel with socio-economic changes.